MGC’s Wynn Inquiry Rolls On & Mohegan Sun Offers To Buy Encore Boston

Written By Martin Derbyshire on December 10, 2018 - Last Updated on January 31, 2023

Its executives have not gone as far as laying down in front of bulldozers. However, Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe, its Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment company and the Mohegan Sun casino it owns and operates have done almost everything they can to prevent the construction of the $2.5 billion Encore Boston Harbor casino project in Everett, Mass.

It partnered with the Suffolk Downs casino proposal vying for the Massachusetts casino license. It worked hard to try to convince regulators that project was the better option.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) ultimately chose Encore Boston Harbor instead. Then, the Tribe accused the Commission of extreme bias in Wynn’s favor and filed a lawsuit against the MGC.

Mohegan Tribe wants Encore Boston Harbor

However, the Commission is considering pulling Wynn Resorts’ license. Now, the Tribe is all about the almost-completed casino project, telling the Boston Herald it is willing to step in and buy it.

Last week, the Tribe sent the following statement to the Herald:

“If (the MGC) finds Wynn Resorts unsuitable to hold a gaming license in Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun is prepared to participate in a process that would assign that license to another operator — and enter into negotiations with the appropriate parties to acquire the facility under construction in Everett. Mohegan Sun has always believed it is the best choice as gaming operator and license holder for a (Boston-area) resort casino, and will be committed to opening the Everett facility in a timely manner should it get the opportunity.”

Wynn Resorts is currently in the latter stages of construction. The company has stuck by plans to open the casino in June 2019. However, its Massachusetts gaming license may now be in jeopardy.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported a series of sexual harassment allegations against Wynn Resorts founder and CEO Steve Wynn. Wynn has since stepped down and is no longer involved in the company in any way.

In the meantime, Wynn Resorts has tried to distance the Everett project from the situation. It changed its name from Wynn Boston Harbor to Encore Boston Harbor.

The MGC investigation

Regardless, the MGC decided to conduct its own investigation into the allegations. The commission wanted to see if Wynn Resorts kept information from it while it was determining Wynn Resorts’ suitability as a casino license holder the first time.

The MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau has almost finished a report on its investigation. The MGC has asked it to present the report to the commission at a hearing this month. The hearing will ultimately determine if anything in the investigation should impact Wynn Resorts’ suitability as a casino license holder.

However, the hearing may now have to wait at least until a Nevada judge hears Steve Wynn’s request to block a public release of the report.

If the MGC ultimately decides Wynn Resorts is not a suitable Massachusetts casino license holder, the organization will likely be forced to sell. The Mohegan Tribe’s interest in buying the property, something MGM has reportedly expressed interest in, is certainly interesting, considering the hotel’s aesthetic makes it unmistakably a Wynn Resorts casino. Plus, the Mohegan Tribe might not be able to cover its $2.5 billion price tag, having reported just $1.38 billion in net revenue last year.

According to the Herald, the Tribe has held meetings with a neighboring community and confirmed it would stand by local revenue sharing agreements Wynn negotiated. The Tribe has also told the commission of its interest in the property.

Everett mayor says no

However, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria told the Herald the City of Everett has no interest in the Tribe:

“Mohegan Sun is not welcome to operate a casino in the City of Everett. We made a deal with Wynn Resorts to operate a 5-star international destination resort and I will never accept anything less — certainly not a gaming parlor that would be used to protect their interests in Connecticut at the expense of our community and residents. Wynn Resorts’ partnership with Everett and the Commonwealth runs far deeper than a building with slot machines.”

Wynn Resorts has declined to comment on Mohegan’s interest in the property. A spokesperson did call it “a self-serving proposition.”

What the community wants

It remains to be seen as to what name residents in surrounding communities ultimately want to see on the $2.5 billion casino project. Either way, a property with Wynn Resorts’ signature all over it is near complete.

It’s now up to the MGC to determine Wynn Resorts’ suitability once again.

Plus, the MGC will have to gauge if the public can still stomach a Wynn presence in Massachusetts, no matter what its founder and former CEO is alleged to have done. Or, if they want someone else to run a casino that’ll never look like it belongs to any other company but Wynn Resorts.

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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years experience in the world of poker and gambling. He contributes to a number of publications dealing with the US regulated online gambling market. He has traveled the globe working as an editor, producer, and writer as well as interviewing major players in the gaming world.

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